Event Recap: Portland Maker Faire

Through my local LEGO User Group, PortLUG, I had the opportunity to participate in a local Maker Faire hosted at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI).

Maker Faire describes themselves as “The Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth”, and hosts events all around the world to celebrate DIYers, technology enthusiasts, crafters, tinkerers… you name it. If you’re a maker, the events are for you.  Sounds like the perfect place to showcase Lego, right?

Portland’s event was an independently hosted “Mini Maker Faire”, put on by OMSI. There were a handful of us from PortLUG participating in the event (the first time we’ve been part of it), and we wanted to inspire attendees to say “…. wait, that’s LEGO?”.

LEGO that looks like …. well, not LEGO … isn’t really my forte, so the following images are all others’ creations (attribution given).


“Dag” has been slowly but steadily working on a 1:1000 scale model of downtown Portland (we had a little fun with him the second day of the show, adding several cranes to the cityscape to properly reflect the insane amount of construction going on in the city at the moment).

He also has an assortment of these “Dags bricks” — scaled up versions of LEGO elements we all know and love. I will admit, I had a lukewarm “oh, that’s cute” response to them initially (a few of them seen on the left), but once I realized you can build with them just like regular elements (as seen on the right), my enthusiasm was turned up to 11. MIND = BLOWN.

Christian, of Little Brick Root, had these micro-scale “modulars” – shown above are 6 different scenes you can mix and match for your own display. You can see the one in the center back is elevated on bricks; with pins this would be compatible with the traditional micro standard (I think… I’m not a microscale builder myself). He’s been playing around with many ways to create microscale trees, and these are just the beginning.

Erik, of Multnomah Falls fame, had a lot of sculptural builds on display, but I particularly loved this take on a popular optical illusion. When viewed head on, the straight lines between the columns appear to converge / diverge (Think \/ vs ||), but viewed at an angle you can see how they are all the same size and width.

Rick was the hero who let people play with LEGO (ours was actually the only table that had any kind of “do not touch” section). He created these reverse engineering challenges – the small builds shown in the top of the photo. They’re made using only elements available in the tray, and most use some non-obvious or non-traditional connection techniques. I loved watching folks try to figure them out, and I recognized the sheer determination in their faces … a few insisted “no, don’t give me any hints!”, and came back a few times throughout the day try have another go at the trickiest builds.

Rick also created these organic shapes that were sturdy enough to withstand handling (a testament to good building techniques, I’d think). Kids and adults both loved that there was something they could pick up and play with – LEGO is obviously a tactile experience, and it’s hard to just look at.

I’m not 100% sure who created this paper, pencil, eraser, and glasses scene, but I believe it was Dag. I didn’t get a photo of the back, but the effect of the lines was created through hinge bricks, with a white base / rocker combined with a blue top (no idea what that part is called).

And clearly a show in Portland needs to include some homage to the famously hideous PDX airport carpet (or former carpet, more accurately… it has been replaced with something equally as ugly but less beloved by Portlanders). Again I’m not 100% sure on who built this, but I believe it was either Christian or Dag.

Overall it was a great event, and one that I hope PortLUG will participate in again! Next time I will push myself out of my usual town / train / minifig-scale comfort zone, and bring my own MOCs.


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